Torn from Stone

By Sarah Rockwood

Fantasy, Action & adventure

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422
17 mins

-1-

I awoke to the sound of heavy breathing: heavy, rattling breaths thick with mucus. They permeated the silence of my bedroom and I lay still as they worked their way in and out of the creature’s lungs. I opened my eyes to the darkness and spoke without a trace of sleep.
"Hello Sid."
"Phoenix! I… I… thought you were sleeping!"
"Apparently," I slithered up to rest against my pillow, "You’ve forgotten that little talk we had. You know, Sid, the one about not visiting me while I sleep!"
I turned my cold blue eyes on Sid as he sat in the moonlit corner of my room. And in the half-light his shape was clear. Sid was a Minion, no taller than a five year old, with dark grey skin, a bowed back and a face that proved Creationists wrong. He moved with a combination of hands and feet so the skin on his palms was always dry and peeling. His only clothing was a small rag around his waist.
Minions are not beautiful creatures. They have a moist quality to their bodies, like frogs. They’re always slurping or snorting something and usually leave a damp patch if they stay in one place for too long. They have no smell though, seriously, they are the absence of scent, which is a real help. If they smelt anything liked they looked, they’d never be able to hide, and Minions are very good at hiding.
“What do you want, Sid?” There had to be a reason for this.
“I? I ask for nothing Phoenix, just a moment’s respite in your presence.” That was the other thing about Sid; he could say the most beautiful bullshit. It almost made up for the slurping.
“Come on, Sid. What’s going on?”
He coughed and then slurped back whatever had come up.
“Phoenix, beauty, I simply enjoy the sanctuary of your dwelling.” I rolled my eyes but since it was dark the effect was lost.
I’ve always been a magnet for weird stuff. Always. Weird people, weird jobs, weird events. And then sometimes I’d see things out of the corner of my eye. Things that I couldn’t quite explain. Most of the time they were just mists or flashes. But sometimes they were more.
The first time I saw one of these solid things, happened while I was babysitting. I was 14 and babysitting meant potato chips and Elvira.
Since it was my third or fourth time at this particular house, their kid was comfortable with me and bedtime was a breeze. She went out like a light and their little dog curled up beside her bed and was quickly dreaming little doggy dreams. I went downstairs, grabbed a bag of chips and started watching TV. The night went on like any other. I flicked back and forth between some late night movies, went up periodically to check on the sleeping duo, and plowed my way through the chips. I was making money and watching TV, things couldn’t get any better.
Around midnight I got this feeling. This weird feeling. The stillness of the house suddenly had an edge to it. I felt cold and instinctively brought my feet off the floor. The hair on my arms and neck tingled and I got this eerie, spacey feeling. I had to look down the hall; something was pulling me there. I got on my hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the couch.
The couch was situated so that it butted against the entrance to the hallway. If I leaned over the arm I would be able to see the length of the hallway. So I took a deep breath and, counting on the element of surprise, I dropped forward.
Now, up until this point I had been convincing myself I was crazy, that there was nothing in the hallway and I was being incredibly stupid. But as I shot forward, I saw it: the head and shoulders of a small dark creature, the size of a child, slipping down the basement steps.
I froze for a brief beat of time and then threw myself back on the couch. I lay there catatonic. I couldn’t bring myself to look again. I was convinced that whatever it was, it was going to crawl into the living room at any moment and slice me to pieces.
So as quickly and as quietly as I could I reached towards a mass of toys and grabbed a plastic baseball bat. I think it was this first grip of a bat that started my love affair with them; since this encounter I’ve always kept one handy. Once the bat was in my hand I felt a little more prepared to leave the safety of the couch.
I was way too scared to go down to the basement after the thing, but it had to be done. I was the babysitter. I tightened my grip on the bat and headed downstairs.
I took the stairs one at a time as quietly as possible, the bat drawn over my shoulder, ready to bestow a beat down. The door to the basement proper was open about a foot. Just enough for something to slip through. I took the bat and gently pushed the door. Well, I thought it was gentle but the door swung fast and hit the wall with a loud crack. I let out a short scream that was echoed by a slightly deeper one from inside the basement.
That shut me up.
I stood in the doorway, not breathing, for several minutes. Okay, it was more like ten seconds but at that moment time had no meaning.
Eventually I peeled my feet from the floor and began to walk slowly into the room. The cord for the light hung in the centre of the basement and I inched my way towards it, waving the bat in slow circles about waist high. Something hit me in the face and after a moment of panic I realized it was what I was looking for. I braced myself and pulled the string.
Light flooded the basement. I forced my eyes to stay open and spun in a circle searching desperately for the creature.
There was nothing there.
But you already knew that.
Nope, nothing. That pissed me off. I scoured that basement and found nothing, not even a disturbed box.
I left the basement, locking the door behind me just in case, and checked on my charges. They were still sleeping. I went downstairs and tried to convince myself the whole thing was just a strange mix of Elvira and potato.
Fast-forward and I find myself swinging a bat at a very similar creature, determined this time not to let it slip away.
On the night of my 25th birthday, I found Sid sleeping under my sink. My guests had just left and since I was still pretty wired I thought I’d clean up. I didn’t want to wake up to a new year of life and a pile of dishes. So I went to the kitchen and with an absent mind opened the cupboard under the sink to grab my rubber gloves.
As I thought about having completed a quarter of my life, my hand slid across something large and moist.
I yanked my hand back and peered into the cupboard. There, curled into a tight ball, was a sleeping ‘thing’. I say ‘thing’ because at that moment my mind couldn’t decipher what I was looking at. Was it a doll? A kid in a costume? Sure, it had a face, but not a normal one. It looked like someone had put human bits on a gorilla’s face with the precision of a 12 year old. It appeared to be sleeping. Its little chest was heaving in a slightly ragged fashion. I watched it for a moment or two, but that was kind of boring, so I poked. Hard.
Its eyes shot open. They were grey as steel.
We both screamed.
I ran for my bat.
Running for the bat was instinct. Like I said, I’ve been doing it since I was 14. My friends like to test my paranoia from time to time, so even though instinct raged for the bat, my rational brain screamed ‘It’s a joke! Relax! Kid in a costume! Kid in a costume!’
Bat in hand, I headed back to the kitchen in time to see him scramble for the bathroom. He moved with a combination of hands and feet, agile and clumsy all at once. I could hear him panting as he made his way. There was no way my friends could rig something this good. I cut across the living room and swung at his back. The bat met flesh and he slid down the hall into the bathroom only to be stopped by slamming into the toilet. I was on him before he could get to his feet, but he wriggled through my legs and into the bathtub. I turned and was about to bring the bat down on his head when he started to cry.
“Please! Please! Lady Phoenix I mean you no harm!”
The moment he said my name I froze. He knew my name. This horrible little thing knew my name.
“Please! I can explain!” He took my silence for permission and continued. “I am sorry, I did not mean for you to find me like this. I have been waiting for the right moment. Waiting for years to reveal myself, I did not mean for it to be like this.” He sobbed harder, wiping at the streams of fluid that were leaving his eyes and nose. It was as I watched him paw at his face, leaving flakes of skin on his cheeks that the words sank in.
“What do you mean, years?”
He blinked at me. I could hear the squelch of eyelids slapping together.
“Are you going to hit me again?”
I thought about it.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, could you lower the club until you have decided? “
I followed his eyes to the bat. I had my baby blue “ li’l' Slugger” in a two handed grip, drawn back over my right shoulder. If I wasn’t going to hit him right away it seemed stupid to leave it there. I lowered the bat.
“Now, what do you mean, years?”
He cleared his throat, it took a lot longer than you can imagine.
“My name is Siddhartha and I am a Minion and a Traveller.”
He calmed down as he spoke, the sobbing stopped and a strange formality came to his voice. His new calm soothed me as well and I sat down on the lid of the toilet so he didn’t have to crane his neck to talk to me. A smile came to his face as I sat and he continued in earnest.
“I come from The Void and Travel from world to world.”
He stopped talking and looked at me. My mind feverishly tried to decipher the information being crammed into it. I had so many questions and he had barely said anything. I was frightened yet I couldn’t deny that I felt an instant comfort around this creature. In the bright light he looked totally alien and yet completely familiar.
“Okay… what’s a Minion.”
“I am.” Cryptic bastard.
"Okay…what’s the ‘The Void’."
He looked at me with his moist grey eyes. His gaze was incredibly penetrating, as if he were trying to read something on my soul.
“It is a place without Time, a gateway to every world, every moment, that has ever existed.” My pulse quickened as he continued, as if something deep inside me was waking up. “We who live in The Void are Travellers. We are the amalgamation of the moments of evolution, each species embodying a stage of development seen and unseen throughout the galaxies. From The Void we Watch, tracking the Light of creatures like yourself.” His voice softened. “Your Light is very bright and I was drawn to you, from The Void I felt you. I have been observing you for a very long time, waiting to see what your Light would do.”
I had a completely unearthly being sitting in my bathtub saying he’d been watching me and I had not run screaming from the room. Sometimes I amaze myself.
“How long have you been watching me?”
He closed his eyes. I think he was trying to come up with an answer but the action just caused goo to squelch out the corners, and he quickly wiped it away.
“In your World it would be considered eleven years.”
I sat stunned for eleven heartbeats.
“You!” It came out much louder than intended and we both screamed, again.
“Sorry…” I panted. “You were the one on the stairs! When I was babysitting! You scared the shit out of me!”
He had the grace to look sheepish.
“Yes, I am so sorry I frightened you. I had been Watching your world for so long, centuries, and in all that time no one had ever seen me. I underestimated you. I never made that mistake again, although there were moments when I knew you felt my presence.”
“Yeah, there has been a lot of that over the years.” I replied dryly. I leaned back against the tank and rubbed my eyes.
“If I may say, Lady Phoenix, you are handling this remarkably well.” He smiled at me, saliva pooling at the corner of his mouth.
“You should be in my head.” A horrible thought came. “Can you do that? Be in my head?”
“No, My Lady, I simply Watch.”
We talked through the night. Sid in the bathtub and me perched on the toilet. He told me about The Void: it’s flat, grey land with few trees and deep, cold, streams. He told me about the other Minions, many others, more than any other species in The Void. He alluded to more species, but I couldn’t get any details out of him. Besides, his other stories were too interesting. He had seen so much history. He had been present at so many moments of change that I barely scratched his surface.
It was sometime around four in the morning that my eyes grew heavy and my head began to nod. Sid paused in his description of the oceans before man began to cross them, and placed a hand gently on my knee.
This was the first and only time Sid has ever touched me. It felt like a warm fluid emanated from his hand and moved through my flesh and bones. The weight of Time was in his touch. The sensation was so strange that I made a small cry and sat up. Sid began to speak:
“Lady Phoenix, the things I have told you tonight are closely guarded Secrets. Secrets you must keep. We Travellers have shared our stories with very few of those we Watch for good reason. There are those in The Void who would not be pleased if you began to tell tales of our meeting tonight. They would be most unhappy with me and they may harm us both.”
“Who are they? Other Minions?”
“It does not matter who they are!” He raised his voice and the warmth moved more forcefully through my body. “It does not matter as long as the Secret is kept. Promise me, My Lady, that you will keep it.”
He gave me his penetrating gaze and I felt a click of understanding. An oath I’d never known fell like a ritual from my mouth.
“Siddhartha, I, Phoenix, will keep your Secret.”
The warm liquid feeling grew until my entire body pulsed. I felt safe and peaceful. As sleep took me, Sid removed his hand from my knee.
“Thank you, Lady Phoenix. I will visit you soon.”
I woke up alone, sitting on the toilet. Classy. 

-2-

That was five years ago.
After our first meeting, it was months before I saw him again. I was beginning to think I’d been slipped something that night when he popped up. We always had a good time, after I got over the shock of him appearing behind me as I did the dishes or crawling over the end of the couch as I watched a movie. In the last six months, his visits had become more and more frequent and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. He had taken to sitting in my room at night while I slept which was okay but he made a wet sucking noise when he breathed. It either gave me really strange dreams about a wet-vac and a mud puddle, or woke me up. That was what I was dealing with now.
"Okay Sid." I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. “This is the third night this week you’ve been here, even after I asked you not to. It’s not like you, Sid.”
I looked at him. “What is going on?”
Sid sighed. A deep, mournful, tired sigh. With his eyes averted, he crawled across the carpet and climbed onto the bed beside me. His grey eyes met mine and he spoke quietly, barely a whisper.
“The Archer is looking for me.”
“The Archer?”
“Please! Please keep your voice low. The names Travel. Please, Phoenix.”
I had never seen Sid so desperate, fear came off him in waves. Up close I could see that parts of his face were dry. His hands were more whole than I had ever seen, which meant he hadn’t been moving very much. I lowered my voice.
“Who is this guy?”
“He is one of The Guards.”
I’d learned over the years that sometimes Sid can be cryptic and to just go with it. Things have a way of explaining themselves.
“Why is he looking for you?”
“Because I did not tell The Guards that I’d found…” He hesitated. “That I’d found something.”
“Why didn’t you tell him?”
“He will hurt it, he will destroy it.”
In all the conversations I’d had with Sid he had never told me about the other species in The Void. He’d told me what it looked like, briefly, and that there were other Minions like him, but nothing else. Every time I pressed him he would subtly move me into another of his fantastic tales. I’d always thought of him as a survivor: yes he’s small and moist, but I thought he could handle anything. Yet here was Sid, sitting on my bed looking frightened. I did the only thing I could think of, something I’d never done before, but he’d never come this close to me before. I gave him a hug.
His eyes were down so he didn’t see me move. The moment my hands touched him he went into a terror.
“Nooooooo!” He moved like lightening off the bed and threw himself against the wall. “No! You cannot touch me! Now they’ll know! They’ll know where I am! They’ll know everything!” He threw his head frantically from side to side looking for an escape.
“I must go. I must go. Far away. Maybe that will throw them off.”
“Sid! I’m sorry. I…” His face was suddenly inches from my own.
“My Lady.” He hadn’t called me that in years, what was going on?
“Sid, call me Ph…”
“No!” His hand hovered just inches from my mouth and I was silent.
“The names Travel.” He softened. “My Lady. Keep your Secrets.”
The oath fell from my lips like it was yesterday in a voice not completely my own.
“Siddhartha, I will keep my Secrets.”
“Thank you. I must go before he traces me here. I will be back when I can.” He shuffled away from the bed and disappeared.
I was stunned. What the hell had just happened? I lay back on my pillow and tried to dissect Sid’s words. Who was The Archer, and what was it that Sid had found? He said The Archer would ‘hurt it’ which probably meant whatever it was, it was alive. Sid had only ever talked about his time in my world, could this thing come from somewhere else? And why would Sid hide in my room? If my Light was strong enough for him to spot all those years ago wouldn’t others have seen it?
These questions chased each other through my brain until, as the sun broke over the trees, I drifted off to sleep.

-3-

I woke up the next day and tried not to worry about Sid. He had lived for as long as Time so I was pretty sure he could handle himself. Besides, my bat and I wouldn’t be much help to him, especially not against someone with the balls to call himself ‘The Archer.’ I knew Sid would show up again sooner or later, so I crammed down my worry and waited.
But as the days turned into weeks and the weeks became a month, I started freaking out. Sid knew that I’d be on eggshells until he told me he was okay, so why hadn’t he contacted me? I started waiting up for him. I’d stay up until the sun was close to waking, reading to keep my eyes open, until I fell asleep with the book on my face.
One night, around the six-week mark, I finally just went to bed. I was exhausted from all my late nights and had come to the conclusion that Sid may be gone for a very long time so I should probably just sleep. I closed my eyes and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I don’t know how much time had passed but I was suddenly conscious. The apartment was still and quiet and I couldn’t figure out what had woken me. Then I heard it. A soft whisper.
“Phoenix… Phoenix…”
“Sid?” I asked the darkness.
“Oh good, you’re awake.” He flicked on the lamp and I was momentarily blinded.
“Jesus, Sid!” I threw an arm over my eyes.
“Sorry!” He turned the dimmer down.
“Where the hell have you been?”
I dropped the arm from my eyes and looked at him. He was much greyer than normal and beads of moisture were visible on his skin. As he wrung his hands large pieces of skin flaked onto the carpet. He had been moving a lot. His skin spoke of fear and escape, and all my concern came flooding back but it ceased when I looked in his eyes. They held a burning, a power stronger than the steel they mimicked, that I had never seen in him before. I noticed he was standing straighter and instead of the small plain cloth he wore a wrap made of heavy black cotton that hit him at mid thigh. There was also a leather backpack at his side. Taking all this in I asked cautiously:
“Sid, what’s going on?”
“Worry not, Phoenix. All will be explained, but now we must hurry.”
“Hurry wh… Hey! You’re using my name again!”
“Yes, there is no point in restraint. They know where we are.” He threw back my covers and beckoned me from the bed. “We must go.”
I got up as he walked towards my closet.
“You still haven’t told me where.”
He called an answer over his back while rifling through my closet.
“That I cannot tell you. The Names Travel. I will answer all your questions, and you will have more, very soon. But now…” He paused in his search. “…This is the one… we must go.”
He handed me the garment. It was the black jumpsuit I’d worn for Halloween. I went as a “sexy” vampire. Doesn’t every woman go as a “sexy” something?
“Sid I am not wearing that! It’s a costume and it leaves nothing to the imagination.”
It really didn’t. It was mat black and made of some man-made stretchy fabric that clung to every inch of me, the dark colour making my pale skin glow. It was a halter style that plunged in the front, had absolutely no back and fitted legs that I’d tucked into knee high boots.
I have long auburn hair that hits me at mid back and with my height and shape I looked very much the Amazonian Goth princess. Super hot, if I do say so myself.
Sid ignored my protest and continued his exploration of my closet.
“Phoenix, we do not have time for this. That ‘costume’ is the only thing you have that is suitable.”
“But I’ll freeze!”
“No, you will also take this.” He tossed me my fur coat.
Yes, I have a fur coat. Don’t worry, it’s vintage. It’s from the seventies and is the same colour as my hair. It hits me at the waist and has a beautiful collar that I wear up around my neck. I love the thing; it’s one of the most erotic pieces of clothing I’ve ever owned. The feel of the fur against skin is amazing, I highly recommend it. I try to wear it as much as possible but I’m always on the lookout for red paint. But seriously, if you’ve ever had a hamburger or worn leather shoes, do you really have the right to be outraged? At least my coat biodegrades.
While I contemplated the coat Sid had found more things for me.
“These for your feet...” Black suede knee-high boots, it was Halloween all over again. “…And this I will fill with supplies. Get dressed.” He slithered into his backpack and went for the door with my black leather tote bag in his hands. I looked down at my ‘outfit’ and I’d had enough.
“Siddhartha! I am not doing anything until you explain just what the fuck is going on!” I rarely swore in his presence, he found it extremely offensive. He stopped in the doorway and turned to face me. Anger pulsated from him and his eyes burnt a light scarlet colour. I’d never seen him do that before. His body trembled with restraint and although he was half my size, I was afraid. I expected him to yell and was shocked when I received a strained whisper instead.
“I have Watched you since you were but a child. I have protected you from things you cannot imagine. I am older than your concept of Time. You are most precious to me and I would never, never, do anything to harm you. Heed my words. We must leave here, now.”
He turned on his heel and left the room.
I got dressed in record time. Halloween night I’d taken almost an hour to put on all the finishing touches, but tonight there would be no trick or treating. I’d forgotten how comfortable the suit was. Sure it was skin-tight but it was also very soft and stretchy and with the boots on I felt ready for action. I stole a glance in the mirror, I had to know just how crazy the suit looked, but I was surprised. Without the fangs and fake blood on my chin the suit just looked hot. Too much for day to day, but not for traveling with a Minion. I shrugged into the coat and walked out of the bedroom feeling like a rock star. A frightened rock star, but still.
I met Sid in the kitchen. I’m a grazer, I like to eat little bits all day long and I get pretty bitchy if I don’t. I also drink a ton of water. Sid, obviously aware of these things, had filled my bag with packets of nuts, a couple of apples, and some cheese. Judging by the amount in the bag we may be gone for a while.
“Good. You’re dressed.” He handed me my water bottle. “Fill this.”
He left the kitchen. I could hear him rummaging in my bedroom again as I filled the bottle. I was loading it into the bag along with a few things from my purse as he came back in the room.
“Please put this in the bag. You will need it.”
He handed me my bat. My bright blue, 'Lil' Slugger, baseball bat. I was shocked and wanted to ask yet again just where the hell he was taking me, but didn’t. After Sid’s tirade I wasn’t going to push it. Besides, despite my questions, I trusted him. I knew in my heart that Sid would never hurt me. I slid the bat into the bag. It fit pretty well in the oversized tote. If I put it in on an angle only about six inches of handle stuck out. My ‘Lil' Slugger is just that, little, child size. I just found the grown-up ones awkward and hard to hide.
When I had finished loading the bag I swung it over my head so the strap lay across my chest. I don’t normally like wearing my bag like that but since I didn’t know where we going, it was mobility over fashion.
Sid walked through to the living room with me at his heels. He stopped in the middle of the room. He gestured for me to step back then closed his eyes and stretched out his arms. A quick warm flash of power ripped through the room, I swayed slightly then it was gone. Sid opened his eyes and held out a hand to me.
“We are safe to Travel. Come, My Lady, take my hand.”
I put my hand in his and felt that warm pulse begin to move its way through my body.
“Hold tight to my hand, Lady Phoenix.”
I couldn’t keep quiet.
“Are we going to disappear? Like you do?”
“Yes. Please close your eyes.”
“Oh shit.” I closed my eyes.
It felt like fainting.



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